Monday, May 1, 2017

Editor's Corner


April & May 2017

“"Good judgment comes from experience and a lot of that comes from bad judgment.""--Will Rogers Soothsayer or not, Will Rogers often said what others were feeling but couldn't put into words as well as he could. Sometimes listening to the dialogue on TV will bring tiny nuggets of realization, that makes one ponder the intentions behind such comments. But mostly, the comments are expected and very unsurprising.

That is not true of the compositions presented in this combined issue for April and May. Our authors have original and surprising ideas that they skillfully relay. \

Thomas F. O'Neill shares hjs current experiencies in China in his column "Introspective." LC Van Savage speaks of Love and Marriage this month in "Consider This," and admits to a secret longing in her article "Vespa! SS!!!". The other article is by Bethany Davies Whitaker, reprinted from her blog, "Altogether Beautiful." Her insight is always meant to be helpful to others, gained sometimes painfully, but she always seeks the potential lessons .

"Armchair Genealogy" by Melinda Cohenour has the first half of another interesting spotlight into a family member, Sidney Washington Creek, who she titles as "A Much Maligned Man." R od Cohenour helps our menu choices with his "April Beef Stew" in"Cooking with Rod."
Judith Kroll's column "On Trek" relates her thoughts on "Time."

"Irish Eyes" includes some of the various events with "Music, Poetry, Stories And Drama" that have kept Mattie Lennon busy lately. Some of his plays have been performed and another one is upcoming.

Bud Lemire's two poems are"Housework Nightmare" and: "The First of May." Bruce Clifford submitted four poems: "I Won't Blame You," "The Big Extreme," "She Hid Herself So Well," and "Together." Phillip Hennessy tells us his poem "Six Feet Deeper" will soon become a song as it has the "feel of an Irish drinking tune."

John I. Blair's six poems for this month are "Blessed Understanding," "At First Glance," "Sunshine," "Sitting at Their Feet," "Zander Sleeping," and "One O'Clock in The Morning." Your editor managed to get a bit of verse into the mix with "Dancing Branches."

Mike Craner, without whom this ezine would have never made the web, deserves many bouquets for his expertise and patience. Not easy keeping this little ezine able to continue its mission of encouraging writers, experienced and beginners, and to promote reading. Now if he only had a solution for the slow internet service in this area.
See you in June !!!

Click on author's byline for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.
This issue appears in the ezine at and also in the blog with the capability of adding comments at the latter.

Armchair Genealogy


A Much Maligned Man:

Sidney Washington Creek

Born: 13 January 1832 in Liberty, Clay County, Missouri
Died: 12 September 1892 in Liberty, Clay County, Missouri

      Sidney Washington Creek was the fourth child, third son born to Jacob “Howdyshell” (Haudenscheldt) Creek and his wife, Virginia Lee Younger. There were 16 pregnancies for Virginia Creek, four of those pregnancies ending with the heartbreaking death of the child.

      The Creek family settled in Clay County, Missouri, early in its pioneer days. The progenitor of the Creek family who first settled in Clay County was Abraham Creek (b. 31 Jan 1783 in Pittsylvania, Virginia and d. 14 Oct 1859 in Clay County, Missouri) who made the move from Barren County, Kentucky, in 1821. Abraham was a first generation American, born to our Immigrant Ancestor, Killian Kreek (believed original Germanic spelling Guilliam Grieg, anglicized upon settling in America). He immediately assimilated into the business of settling the little township and participated in the building of its essential infrastructure. The following items appeared in the “History of Clay County” documenting important events in the growth of the county:

      “Court Proceedings in 1826. In May the first steps were taken to build a court house; Wm. Averett was allowed $30 per year for the support of his insane son; and Abraham Lincoln (uncle of the "martyr President"), Reuben Tillery and Abraham Creek were appointed reviewers of a road from Liberty to Estes' mill, on Fishing river.”

      It is believed Abraham, having served in the War of 1812, made the move in response to the government’s enticement to move the population centre Westward by providing recompense to its fighting men in the form of Land Warrants in the western part of the country. The historic association with the Lincoln family, working side by side with the paternal uncle of President Abraham Lincoln, is noted with pride by the author.

Abraham Creek

      The families of Lincoln, Todd, and Creek were the pioneering families whose efforts formed the community and shaped the underlying philosophy of self-government, industrious community effort, bravery, and courage in the face of extreme adversity. Another extract from the same publication paints a broader picture of the closeness of these historic American families and that of Thomas Jefferson, as well:

      “From the History of Clay County, Missouri (Author: William H. Woodson, published by Historical Publishing Company, Topeka - Indianapolis, 1920.) The ?rst circuit court was held in Clay County at the house of John Owens, in Liberty, March 4, 1822. David Todd, an uncle of the wife of Abraham Lincoln, who was Mary Todd, was judge; William L. Smith, clerk; Hamilton R. Gamble, circuit attorney, and John Harris, sheriff. William L. Smith was born in a northern state, a man of education and of many accomplishments, popular with the people, and held this office until 1831, when he resigned the o?ice. Hamilton R. Gamble was a Virginian, born in 1798; came to St. Louis in 1818, came to Old Franklin in 1819, was circuit attorney in 1822, secretary of state in 1824, supreme judge in 1851, and in 1861, on the ?ight of Governor Claiborne Fox Jackson from Jefferson City, was made provisional governor of Missouri. He died in 1864. John Harris was a lineal descendant of Mary Jefferson, sister of Thomas Jefferson; Mary Jefferson married Col. John Turpin and her daughter, Obedience, married Col. John Harris. Very little business was transacted at this term of the circuit court as it was in session only two days. The grand jurors for the term were Richard Linville, foreman; Zachariah McGree, Benjamin Sampson, Robert Y. Fowler, Zachariah Averett, Howard Averett, John Ritchie, James Munkers, John Evans, Thomas Estes, Andrew Robertson, Richard Hill, David Magill, Walker McClelland, Robert Poage, Samuel Tilford, David Gregg, William Allen, Elisha Hall and James Williams. There are many descendants of the men who constituted this grand jury now residents of Clay County. The next term of the circuit court was in July following, and only one jury trial, that of the State vs. Jonathan Camron, who had been indicted for affray. A jury of twelve good and true men were selected to try the defendant; they were Abijah Means, Richard Chaney, Abraham Creek, John Bartleson, James Gladden, Francis T. Slaughter, Enos Vaughn, Andrew Copelin, John Carrell, Matthew Averett, Eppa Tillery and Samuel Magill, who after hearing the evidence, instructions of the court, and arguments of counsel, retired, but soon returned with a verdict, “We, the jury, ?nd the defendant not guilty”.
[Extracted by Melinda Cohenour from the book on September 29, 2014.]
      On 26 September 1852, Sidney wed Lucinda Estes. The reverend John May officiated at the marriage. This union produced a large number of children and, as with so many families in these early days, a number of these children did not survive to adulthood. We do know that at the time of Lucinda Estes Creek’s impending death she listed the following in her will: Charles (Jefferson) Creek, Georgia Ann Franklin, Beau Creek, Jennie Hamilton, Dicey Parks, Sallie Parks, Emma Johnson, and Lillie Creek. At that time, young Lillie was still at home and had not reached the age of eighteen. Provisions were made for her care until such time as she attained the age of majority. (A few mysteries appeared in the Will, causing even the Probate Court crew to scratch their heads. Much research has, hopefully, ironed out those peculiarities as well.)

      Thus far, in the life of Sidney Washington Creek, most of his experiences had been pleasant – a loving family, comfortable home, prosperous farming, marriage to the love of his life and the start of his own family. Notwithstanding the loss of his babies, life had been good. But life has a way of banking sharply against obstacles and disrupting the flow of “milk and honey.” Thus would be the experience of Sidney Creek.

      The second half of Sid’s story will be told in the next column by this author. This will be a story that has intrigue, deception, violence, and every emotion known to man.

Click on author's byline for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.

Cooking With Rod

April Beef Stew

  • 2.5 lbs lean stew meat
  • Nonfat cooking spray
  • 2.5 lbs Yukon Gold potatoes, quartered
  • 1 lb baby carrots
  • 1 large Spanish onion, diced
  • 3 qts. Unsalted Beef Stock
  • 2 lg. cans Sento All Purpose Crushed tomatoes
  • 2 Tbsp ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp Mrs. Dash
  • 1 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 2 Tbsp onion powder
  • Brown meat, seasoned lightly with the listed spices in a large pan prepared with a liberal application of nonstick cooking spray. When nicely browned on all sides, remove to stewpot.
    Add all ingredients to large stewpot. Bring to a boil over Medium High heat, lower to a simmer, then lower a bit more and permit to stew until potatoes and carrots are cooked through but still hold their shape.

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    Consider This


           We do live in weird times, of that I’m certain, and one of those weirdnesses these days is the inclination for some of us to marry things other than humans. Inanimate things. Appliances. And we even consider marrying our own pets because we love them so. Or something. Personally, try as I can, I just can’t think there’s much of a chance for death-do-us-part everlasting happiness when wedded to one’s pet Siamese Fighting Fish for example, but hey, different strokes, right?

           Years ago, I wrote a very serious column about a man of whom I’d read, who wanted to—and did—marry his TV set. His reasons were really quite sound. He told his interviewer he was lonely, that he had no friends and that his TV set was his very BFF, never gave him a moment’s grief until it needed a few repairs, never gave him problems or argued with his decisions, never ran up credit card bills or cheated on him. The man was completely in love.

           A local man of the cloth decided to join in the fun and offered to marry the loving couple. He posted the bans, managed to get a marriage license of sorts for them, and people were invited to the Big Day, refreshments after. The minister pronounced them Man and Philco, and they lived, and watched, happily ever after.

           Then there was the guy who decided to marry his car. He was anxious that if he didn’t marry it—her, whatever—that someone would steal her because she was so pretty, and sell or wreck her and oh how he loved that car. He figured if people knew his pretty car was an old married woman they would lose interest and would leave her be. Besides, neither of them wanted children anyway, so the guy found a priest new to the church business who agreed to say the words. Thus, Man and ’55 Ford Fairlane were then married and lived out their lives in bliss in a local heated garage. It seemed to be a happy marriage. They never fought about anything. He’d chat, she’d play music.

           Folks all over the world seem to think it’s adorable for their animal pets to marry each other, so their owners design and sew up cutesy wedding outfits and invite all their friends to watch their female and male Llamas or Pugs or Ferrets or Shetland Ponies or Parrots or Turtles or Pot Bellied Pigs ---well, you get the idea--to marry each other. They even hire musicians to play Messrs. Kloven and Scott’s “Oh Promise Me” or Felix Mendelssohn’s “Wedding March” and they invite all their friends to watch these poor uncomfortable animals struggling down an “aisle” to stand, sit or roll over, fall asleep, or try to run away from being forced to stay still in front of a person in a long robe, holding an open book over them and saying things in a droney voice. Dogs have been known to lift their legs against the clergy’s robes, bride and groom rabbits to suddenly mate vigorously and then constantly, Llamas to spit, and a beloved pet snake, in wedding attire, to constrict and swallow the groom rabbit when no one was looking. Everyone weeps and laughs and applauds lovingly at these bizarre ceremonies, except of course for the owners of the darling cuddly, and now gone angora bunny.

           So the question I have is this; if people can marry their appliances or something from out of their home entertainment centers, or something with tires living in their garages, if they can dress up their animals in awful and embarrassing wedding garb and force them to “marry” each other for the entertainment of their owner’s nearest and dearest, and everyone thinks it is funny and charmingly adorable and absolutely appropriate and acceptable, then how come there are still some folks out there who think that 2 responsible, compatible, loving and productive humans of the same sex do not have the right to marry? Seems oddly weird to me…

    Click on author's byline for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.

    On Trek

    Time is Free

    We can save time, give time
    We can do this ALL the time
    Take our time, find time to share
    I don't care

    We gain time and lose time
    24 hours is ALL mine
    I can't get more and I can't get less
    One of a kind...time.. divine

    The gift of time to use as I please
    can't be sold, not for lease.
    Time is precious as it flys by
    Where did it go? We wonder why

    We can't build it up for another time
    must use it right the first time
    As time passes, and the bell's chime
    Keep in mind..There is always time.!!
    ©3/22/17 Judith Kroll

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    Irish Eyes

    Music, Poetry, Stories And Drama

           I’ve had an interesting couple of months since I saw you last. First I was at a Comhaltas Ceoltori Eireann concert in the Tramway Theatre, Blessington, on 11th March. There the cream of local talent took to the stage, as part of Seachtain na Gaeilge. There was a great line up for a very good show to highlight the great Tradition we, in west Wicklow, hold in Music, Poetry, Song and Stories.

          We had;

           Phil Callery. A World Class international Singer with The Voice Squad. Phil featured on CDs, “.Landscape of the Past,” “From The Edge of Memory” and “Live in Hollywood. Co.Wicklow”. The real Hollywood!

    Phil Callery

          Rachel Conlan, Young Person of The Year Award 2015 as Ambassador for Traditional Music, with links to Sweden, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia and Co.Clare. Rachel and Alan Reid have their first CD, just recorded.

          Rachel featured on DVD “Sunrise on the Wicklow Hills”, composing a tune, “Flower of Lugnaquilla”. She has a Master’s Degree in Traditional Music Performance.

           Jane Clarke. Poet. Born in Roscommon now living in Co.Wicklow. Winner 2016 Hennessy New Irish Writing Poetry Award and Listowel Writers Week Poetry 2014.

          SCOR 2016 All Ireland Finalists, with Rachel Conlan, Aoife Doyle and Orla Greaves. All are past members of Hollywood Music School under Eric Greaves and C.J.Darby, still encouraging the playing of traditional music and hold the festival “Music Under the Mountain”, every September.

          Feidhlim and Muirne Mac Roibin a brother and sister traditional duet from Lacken.

          Blessington Comhaltas Grupa Ceoil with Rachel and Sarah O Kelly was a very special occasion for the mums and Dads to see the great skills all have acquired through their classes at Blessington Comhaltas. Blessington Comhaltas received The Community Group Award 2016 for their work in promoting Traditional Music.

           You would hear a pin drop during the poetry reading by Jane Clarke from her collection “The River.” Jane is from Roscommon but moved to Wicklow twenty years ago. She told me about how the move influenced her writing, “I had a dream of becoming a writer but I hardly even admitted it to myself. The quiet and the beauty of the surroundings gradually helped me make time for writing. I began with prose and then attempted a poem. A few poems later, I realized that I had found my medium and from then my life changed as I became more and more involved in writing and reading poetry. Ten years later, my collection, The River, was published by Bloodaxe Books.

          " Somehow walking helps poetry, probably the physical rhythm of walking and the way it helps rest the mind. Being out and about in the fields, amongst trees, hedges and ditches, with sheep and cattle around reminded me of the farm where I grew up in Roscommon, even though the landscape of granite hills is very different to the flat, limestone midlands. Living in Wicklow has given me both the natural inspiration and the quiet time that is essential for my writing. “

          My local village of Blessington held its first ever Saint Patrick's Day Parade this year and a great turn-out it was. My one-Act monologue play “In the Hut” and my short Two-hander “Ye’ll Vote for Me” were staged by the Gunnison Arts Center, in Colorado, on Saint Patrick’s Day.

    Myles Day Photo Used with permision from the Irish Times

           Then on April 02nd there was Myles Day, in the Palace Bar, Dublin. So what is MylesDay? This is what the organiser, Dublin engineer, John Clarke, had to say on the first Myles Day on 01st April 2011. “Let’s start with what it isn’t – it isn’t Bloomsday. I think we’re all probably aware of Bloomsday. For years, when Myles aficionados have gathered, they have often wondered why should James Joyce get a whole day to himself. The thing about Joyce, and I hear he’s a lovely fellow, but he can be a bit...dry? And we felt it was wrong that Flann O’Brien, who, and let’s be honest here, has brought more happiness, entertainment & pure joy to the lives of the Plain People of Ireland that any number of James Joyces ever will, should languished uncommemorated, while Joyce continues to get a whole day – every year.”

    Val O'Donnell at Myles Day, 2017.

          So that was the genesis of MylesDay – to allow the ordinary, decent, people of Ireland celebrate one of their own. And this year was the seventh Myles Day which John has organised. And as for the date John picked, 1st April, it was the actual date of Brian O’Nolan’s death – 51 years ago. The original purpose of MylesDay was to celebrate the works of Flann O’Brien, who also wrote under the name(s) of Myles na Gopaleen, and Brian O’Nolan and brought delight to a generation of readers. Flann was involved in starting the tradition of Bloomsday. If you see the footage of the original Bloomsday, in 1954, of our hero requiring considerable assistance to get into a cab, it appears that it was not the most tightly organised event in the world. And some, crueller commentators, may even suggest that it was a thinly veiled pretext to facilitate an afternoon’s drinking. How times have changed. This year due to a sporting event Myles was relegated to April 02nd.

    Mattie Lennon at Myles Day, 2017.

           One journalist wrote that yours truly had, “ . . .a penchant for holding forth at length on the little vignettes and foibles of human nature that many others pass by unnoticed.” Be that as it may I have now brought out a CD, “Truth and Lies With Mattie Lennon”. 80 minutes, 14 tracks, of Seanachai stories (some of them true!) Details at;

           And now . . I have just been informed that the Kill Musical and Dramatic Society will stage the world premiere of my play, “A Wolf by the Ears” on May 11th.

           See you in June.

    Click on author's byline for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.


          Living in Suzhou, China, I discovered that the actor Rowan Atkinson commonly known as Mr. Bean is extremely popular here. His short films are aired on some of China’s television networks and not to mention viewed online.
          Occasionally, I will play one of his short films in my class not because I’m a huge fan of Mr. Bean. But, because my biggest enjoyment comes from hearing the laughter from my students.
          Rowan Atkinson due to his popularity has reprised his iconic comedic role of Mr. Bean in a Chinese comedy film titled ‘Top funny comedian: The Movie.’
          He has also been promoting the movie on stage, by playing his beloved character of Mr. Bean to packed audiences of children and adults, in Beijing.
          Rowan has been seen with popular Chinese actors including Yue Yunpeng and Guo Degang. He was not only wearing his trademark tweet suit but also expressed the full-fledged Mr. Bean role that the Chinese viewers have grown to love.
          Rowan Atkinson is loved throughout Asia but especially here in China. They refer to his Mr. Bean character as ‘the foolish Bean.’ Most of the excitement about this new film is due to the fact that Rowan hasn’t made a Mr. Bean film in ten years.
          Rowan’s last Mr. Bean movie in 2007 called ‘Mr. Bean’s Holiday’ was a super hit in China as well. The movie is regularly aired on some of China’s television networks as a way of promoting the upcoming release of his new film.
          The Chinese comedy actor Degang told a Chinese television audience about his experience working with Rowan on stage in Beijing. In his televised interview, he said that they were both confused on how to communicate with each other while performing due to a language barrier.
          Degang said that he can’t speak English and Rowan is unable to communicate in Chinese. They have non-verbal signals in order to coordinate their on stage comedic routines but the audience is totally unaware of their verbal language deficiencies, he said jokingly. vHe also went on to say that despite having no language in common. He and Atkinson could transcend the language barrier with humor.
          He also went on to say that with facial expressions and gestures on stage they seemed to understand each other. It was really an interesting experience for them, he went on to say, which proves that comedy can transcend boundaries.
          The Mr. Bean character says very little and the Chinese view him as a child in a grown man's body. Rowan Atkinson deploys the Mr. Bean character through considerable physical comedic talents and creativity.
          The original Mr. Bean TV series reached UK audience figures of 18.74 million in the 90s, and was distributed to 245 territories worldwide, including China. But, Rowan Atkinson’s new movie will only be distributed in China’s movie theaters. But that won’t diminish Rowan’s worldwide appeal.
          He recently announced that he will be reprising his role from ‘Love Actually’ in a new 'sequel' being produced for this year's Comic Relief.
          Living here in Suzhou, China, I will have to go and check out the new Mr. Bean movie and see what all the Chinese hype is about. I will then get back to you with my Americanized opinion about the movie.
          I suppose I can be described as a lukewarm fan of Mr. Bean. But, I do however, get immense pleasure hearing my students laugh at ‘the foolish Bean’ when viewing one of his short films.
          Well until next time enjoy the rest of the spring season……
      Always with love from Suzhou, China
      Thomas F O’Neill
      WeChat - Thomas_F_ONeill
      U.S. voice mail: (800) 272-6464
      China Cell: 011-86-15114565945
      Skype: thomas_f_oneill
      Other articles, short stories, and commentaries by Thomas F. O'Neill can be found on his award winning blog, Link:
      Click on author's byline for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.

    Article: VESPA! SI!!

          Vespas, those adorable little scooters one can sit on the way one sits on a chair, were first made in 1946, and the name means “Wasp.” The insect, not the social paradigm. Created by Piaggio & Co. of Pontedera, Italy, they now number in the millions.

           Italians have the sexiest, most expressive language right? And there are those who also say they have the best cuisine on the planet. They also make the best scooters. How do I know that? I don’t---except in my dreams. And, like all humans, I too have dreams and one of my biggest was to own, and ride a Vespa. Yellow. Pink. Red. Not black. They don’t go as fast.

           I have hinted like crazy to someone named Mongo to whom I’ve been married for nearly 60 years, that he should buy one for me—used is good---but I get nothing but a glassy glare. One time when I was in full bore Vespa nag, he sighed and said “No. If you get on one of those things you’ll die.” No I won’t, but talk about your votes of confidence. We went to Bermuda years ago and he wouldn’t let me rent one there either. OK, that would have meant driving on the wrong side of the road and that quite possibly could have ended up with the Bermudian EMTs using a giant spatula to scrape me off the roadway, mon, so I did cave that time.

           No matter. I still want a Vespa and just because my balance is shot and my other things are slowing down just a little is no reason why I can’t have one. I mean plenty of geezer Italians are zipping all over Italy on them, and their coniugi don’t tell them they’ll die if they continue riding on their scooters. Of course I don’t know that for sure but I know a lot of Italians and I’ve never once heard any of them speak to their wise old Vespa riding buckarinos like that. Not once. Apparently, they’re a little more respectful to their Vespa loving family members than some people I know.

          OK then—I’ll count my blessings the way Bing Crosby crooned in his 1954 hit, “Count Your Blessings (Instead of Sheep)” and then I won’t cry anymore because I don’t get to have a Vespa.

          But I do have a friend— well I actually have a couple of friends---her name is Marilyn Taylor and she’s always known my secret yearning to own and ride on a Vespa. She also has a bloodhound’s nose for shopping and finds absolutely everything she wants. Last Christmas she presented me with a box and inside was, yeah you guessed it---a Vespa. Pink! I can’t really ride on it since it’s only about 6” high but it’s hand-made and adorable and very outsider-art looking, and I am beyond thrilled. The box had a woman’s name on it---she’d owned that tiny Vespa and put it on on Ebay, and it was there Marilyn found it, and bought it for me. I wrote to that woman who lives in Surprise AZ (what a charming name!) and she answered. She was so nice. She told me when she and her new husband took a trip to Europe many years ago when they were very young and much in love. They’d ridden on Vespas back then in Italy, and when they saw this little tin Vespa in a gift shop in a small village, they bought it as a keepsake and memory of their joyful love and happiness.

          Well, as we all know, joyful love and happiness can sometimes go awry and theirs did, so the lady from Surprise put the tiny Vespa on Ebay and now I own it, and she told me she is delighted the little thing will have a happy home again.

           My tiny pink Vespa now lives on our mantel where I can see it every single day and – this may sound a little weird—but when I look up at it I get this strange sensation of wind blowing through my hair. Really! It’s true!

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    Article: Well Loved Bible + A Messy Heart

          Can I be super vulnerable for a minute? Sometimes, when I'm around people who have been Christians their whole lives I feel very inferior. Even though I know that's a lie, I get so wrapped up in the fact that I don't have as many years under my belt in studying the Bible. I grew up going to church, but reading the bible was something we really only did on Sunday, and even then I was never super interested. Reading the bible was so tedious and boring, or at least that's what I thought at first.

          I don't remember the exact moment that I began to crave digging into the Bible, but I do know it was sometime in college when I began to experience terrible anxiety. Honestly, I began reading to fulfill my "duty" as a Christian, but then I began to realize that whenever I read, I was overcome with a sense of peace. My anxiety would disappear and I would find myself not ever wanting to close the cover. Then, I started taking notes in journals while I did a Bible study or listened to a sermon. For the first time in my life, I was on fire!

          Then, I bought my first journaling Bible, and my whole world was transformed! (In a good way) See, when I kept journals of my notes, it was great, but I never went back to look at my notes. I lost my journals all the time! ( I lose everything...) But, being able to write all my notes in one place just made me want to dig in that much more! I formed my own color-coding system and it helped me stay focused because I get ridiculously distracted whenever I'm doing anything. Anybody else in the same boat?

          Unfortunately, I got super wrapped up at first in wanting my Bible to look pretty and perfect. You know, Type A personality. It took me a little while to realize that it doesn't matter how messy you make your Bible because that messiness is you as an imperfect person, laying your heart out for your Savior which is what it's supposed to be about anyway.

          These days, I don't really care about how "pretty" it looks. Don't get me wrong, I love seeing all the colors, but my Bible also has ripped tabs, fraying pages on the edges, and lots of scribbles instead of thoughtfully planned out calligraphy. You wanna know something? That's okay. That messy and falling apart Bible has gotten me through some really rough moments. Every time I open that Bible, I hear the sweet whispers of Abba saying "Are you ready? I've got something sweet for you to hear and read today." The sweetest of whispers. It's these whispers that calm my anxiety ridden mind and overwhelming need for perfection.

          I've chosen to explore the fact that my Bible is not supposed to look like anyone else's, because it is the reflection of my heart for Jesus, and our journeys are not all the same. It's about the process, not the perfection, or the pretty colors. Having a colorful and well-loved Bible is great, but if you are just investing the time to make it look pretty, and not focusing on transforming yourself, and digging deeper in your faith, then you've only been doing the surface-level things!

          While sometimes I do still have those thoughts of inferiority, I know that those thoughts are from the Devil and I've decided I'm not going to answer those thoughts. I won't even entertain them because it doesn't matter how long I've been a Christian. God loves me just the same. To Him, I am capable, intelligent, and loved. I can rest knowing that the only thing that matters is that I'm digging deep into my relationship with Him.

          Have you found yourself comparing your faith to those around you? Well, I'm here to tell you that there's no need! Your faith and relationship with Jesus are yours alone, and only you know how to live it out. After all, a living faith > a perfect faith.

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    At First Glance

    At first glance
    My car looks black,
    Drab and boring.

    But I know better;
    I’ve seen it freshly washed
    And shining in the sun.

    It’s midnight blue
    Aglow with tiny flecks
    That glitter as you watch.

    At first glance
    I look old and dull;
    But when I’m freshly washed
    And shining in the sun ...

    ©2017 John I. Blair, 1/19/2017

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    One O’clock In The Morning

    Albinoni playing in the room –
    Parts for strings, for oboe.

    Outside in the humid night
    Birds sleep, car sounds
    On the nearby street
    Are hushed by trees.

    I’m postponing sleep for me,
    Reluctant to resign myself
    To a round of pills,
    A CPAP’s tight embrace,
    A lumpy bed
    With cat companions.

    Tomorrow is another day,
    Another on the farther side of that,
    And so on to the end of days.

    I choose not to think about it.

    But when I sleep
    The dreaming starts.

    ©2017 John I. Blair, 1/14/2017

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    The First Of May

    The Yellow Rumped Warbler, and the Merganser Duck
    Talk about my happiness, and a photographer's luck
    Two Great Blue Herons, Bob's Cousins I presume
    On the first of May, maybe Bob will come soon

     Swans in the water, enjoying feeding time
    While I zoom in, with this camera of mine
    A beautiful day, and the first of May
    Warmer temperatures are coming closer, every day

    The fish flies are out, but they won't stay too long
    And soon I will hear, the Yellow Warbler's song
    The Robins are already, singing a beautiful tune
    I look forward to this month, and the month of June

    A Tern flies by, on the shore nearby
    It sure has, such a very loud cry
    Two Merganser Ducks, with the bad hair day
    Dip in the water, they love to play

    This May seems colder, than years in the past
    But this cool season, won't always last
    The sun is out, on this beautiful day
    The wind is blowing, on The First of May
    ©May 1, 2013 Bud Lemire
                           Author Note:

    It was indeed a wonderful day when I wrote
    this poem. I always love it when the birds
    return to the area in Spring, and I see so
    many appear, hoping to make their summer
    a good one here in the Upper Peninsula of
    Michigan. Thank God for birds.
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    Dancing Branches

    There stands the venerable Oak--
    Nothing can ruffle that tree's elegance,
    Though the supple young branches
    Eagerly welcome the chance
    To join the brisk wind
    In a Salsa Dance
    Twisting and flipping
    In graceful to and fro
    Just how to entice them
    Only the wind would know
    So they swirl and twirl
    In an impromptu show.

    A pleasure to watch them
    In their new garb of green
    And as they keep dancing
    Seems they love being seen
    A like pleasure for them
    But they shouldn't trust the wind
    Whose errant path soon wanders
    Bringing their dance to an end.
    But the sun seemed to brighten
    Shining down on such grace
    And the glimpse of their dance
    Brought a smile to my face.
    ©April 2017 Mary E. Adair

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    Every day
    Cats remind me
    Where the sunshine is
    By finding it,

    How difficult a lesson
    Can this be?

    ©2017 John I. Blair, 1/30/2017

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    Zander Sleeping

    Zander’s sleeping next to Grace;
    Their backs just barely touch;
    Their eyes are closed and quiet.

    Out sticks one paw,
    Slowly flexed from time to time;
    The other curls toward his nose.

    Warm air from the furnace,
    Light breeze from the ceiling fan,
    Music from a nearby room.
    How soft his fur; how delicate his ears;
    How peaceful is his pose
    In this place he knows is safe.
    How true the words
    A home without a cat
    Is just a house.
    ©2017 John I. Blair, 1/17/2017

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    Sitting at Their Feet

    I’ve sat at the feet of S. I. Hayakawa, been
    Dazzled by the dance and song of Miriam Makeba,
    Heard Margaret Mead recite a poem
    As I crouched at the rear of the hall.

    To me all these and many more
    Are not just names out of the past –
    They once were shining eyes, warm voices,
    Breathing, animated flesh I could have touched.

    History and thought are not just
    Dull and dusty words on printed pages;
    They’re lives preserved, blessings given
    To help us lurch into the future.

    ©2017 John I. Blair, 4/9/2017

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    Housework Nightmare

    The dishes are waiting, to be washed in the sink
    It's such a hot day, so I'll sit and have a drink
    A rootbeer float, hits the spot just right
    The floors need sweeping, what a sorry sight
    I have a lot of clutter, but that's just me
    So many things everywhere, it's easy to see
    Dust seems to collect, in so many places
    On top it all settles, in most of the cases

    Inside the refrigerator, things have spilled
    And the garbage can, is way over filled
    The shower is dirty, all over the floor
    The toilet needs cleaning, and so much more

    The laundry basket, is piled up with clothes
    A disgusting smell, comes to my nose
    I tell you, it's a Housework Nightmare
    Another sip of my rootbeer float, as I sit and stare
    ©June 28, 2012 Bud Lemire
                            Author Note:

    I'm sure I'm not the only one who has had a Housework
    Nightmare. I always find it easier, when I do one little
    job at a time. That way it is much easier and you do a
    much better job, and it still gets clean. Damn! That
    Rootbeer Float sounds good right now.

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    This Big Extreme

    Sleepless nights shaped like wings
    Calling out to distant things
    Around that time within a dream
    Heading for this big extreme

    Reckless lives dipped in sand
    Calling out to a guardians plan
    Chasing lines before high tide
    Leaning towards the end of time

    We turn to nothing when we turn around
    We forget about what we’ve been about

    Sleepless nights bouncing on springs
    Dripping candles and diamond rings
    Around that time in a scene
    Reaching towards this big extreme

    Can you hear the whispers like I do
    Don’t make a sound
    Don’t ever cry
    We turn to nothing when we turn around
    We forget about what we’ve been about

    Sleepless nights shaped our dreams
    Calling out to what this means
    Around that time within a dream
    Walking towards this big extreme

    ©4/17/17 Bruce Clifford

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    She Hid Herself So Well

    She looked into my eyes
    Or was she looking through me
    Her eyes couldn’t tell
    She hid herself so well

    She looked into my thoughts
    Or was she gazing right past me
    Her words would never say
    She knew just how to play

    So when I was looking at you
    Were you looking at me too
    Feeling so lost
    I might never know

    She played havoc with my mind
    Or was she always trying to be kind
    Her touch never got too close
    Only she knows who she loves the most
    She hid herself so well

    She played chaos in my brain
    Or was she only trying to behave
    My words never touched her heart
    I guess this why we remain apart
    I might never know

    She looked into my eyes
    Or was she looking through me
    Her eyes couldn’t tell
    She knew me all too well

    ©4/20/17 Bruce Clifford

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    Six Feet Deeper

    Well, I'm drinkin' and thinkin'
    I'm not getting Drunk
    It's Mad, and it's Bad
    cuz the bottle ain't sunk
    My Mind is all over,
    I'm Done with it, now
    But my Body says More,
    and I'll Get it, ..Somehow.

    Sometimes a Gift,
    and sometimes a Curse
    when you don't get the Lift,
    it makes you feel Worse
    You can do it all over,
    and over again.
    at the End of it all,
    You still get the Pain

    So chuck it, I'm Dead.
    I don't Matter no more,
    and No one will know
    what i Came here For
    A born-again Person
    With no axe to grind
    and an innocent feeling
    that the World will be Kind.

    Well, I'm Done with this now,
    I was Done with it, Then
    I'm so sartan sure
    That I'll do it Again
    and again, and again
    till I can't take no more
    They'll find me, One day
    in a heap. On the floor.

    How much Lower
    does it get than Dead
    Six feet Deeper
    than in your Head.
    Up to heaven
    Down to earth
    you're not here Long,
    for what it's worth

    Been there, done it,
    All before.
    Here we Go,
    Let's get some More !
    How Deep does it get,
    when yer Deeper in Debt
    and all you can Do,
    is try to Forget

    Six feet Deeper,
    Six feet Deeper

    ©March 2017 Phillip Hennessy

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    I Won't Blame You

    I won’t blame you
    But I want to
    I want you to take a tour of my brain
    So that you can feel my pain
    Are you sure, but if you are you still can’t blame me

    You can blame me
    But you can’t tame me
    I want to taste the tears that you cry
    So you can help me understand why
    Are you sure, but if you are you still can’t blame me

    I knew you were a mystery
    You take me to this misery
    I’ve tried my best to do right by you
    With all of our history, I still won’t blame you

    ©4/5/17 Bruce Clifford

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    Blessed Understanding

    I’ll know I have arrived
    At blessed understanding
    The day I learn to love

    ©2017 John I. Blair, 4/9/2017

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    It might not be right to be in the wrong
    You might not agree with the words to a song
    Even the best of us get caught up in the lies
    Together we run, together we hide

    It might not be cool to stand on the edge
    You never can tell until you fall off the ledge
    Accepting missions to land on the hill
    Together we run with character and will

    Together we can
    Together with a plan
    Together in this land

    It might not be normal to jump out of line
    You never could tell we were moments behind
    Turning the station, making new plans
    Together we fly, together we stand

    It might not be cool to live in this space
    You never can face it when you’ve got memories to erase
    Even the best of us get caught up in the lies
    Together we run, together we hide

    ©3/13/17 Bruce Clifford

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